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Showing 1-10 of 84 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 115 reviews
on December 29, 2011
I purchased this book after listening to an interview with Needleman on a podcast I subscribe to. I watch a lot of HGTV and DIY, but beyond that I am very new to the consumption of interior design products, and every magazine I've bought on the subject only served to depress me about the lack of money and skill I have to reproduce the results in the photos.

Needleman's book did not inspire the same defeatism; in fact, it has energized me to redecorate my home on my own budget and to my personal taste.


- Needleman's writing and tone is accessible and interesting. She was just enough authority and technical terms to make me feel that I was in the hands of an expert and just enough joking and asides to keep the material from being dry.
- Love the water color paintings. Most magazines give you snapshots of someone's perfectly designed house, which actually limits your ability to imagine how you'd recreate the look or modify it for your own home. The water color somehow subverted that and was just beautiful enough to be inspiring.

- No chapter on home office
- The kitchen chapter could be more substantial (most of it focused on the dining area)
- In terms of class consciousness, I couldn't help but be regularly reminded of my staunch middle-classness at times, especially when being told that a certain candle from Italy is really the only candle worth having. Use of French was at times a bit pretentious.


I read this book cover to cover, and plan to re-read it as I redecorate my own home this spring.
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on April 2, 2014
This is a lovely and beautifully illustrated book with real, practical advice on home decorating. It explains what types of items will achieve certain looks, and how to make decisions about where to place items for the best effect.

The real achievement is that it manages to inspire you without making you think "if i could find a ___ exactly like the one in that photo, my room would be complete!"

Ive read mine cover to cover, and keep it on my coffee table to reread regularly. I have given it as a gift 4 times, and I always get a call later to tell me how much they love the book.
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on January 9, 2012
This book is a philosophy of decorating to enhance life. This makes it refreshing and helpful in designing your own place. Rather than imitating design-porn, it enables you to start our working out what will work and be beautiful for you and your life style. I liked the acknowledgement of real life through acceptance of 'mollifiers'. There was a bit of snob factor - Deborah Needleman clearly has a much larger budget than I do. But I can use her ideas scaled down, and casual-ised for my more laid-back and cheaper life.
I can see this book would be most helpful if you already had an interest in and had looked at other design stuff already. Its not a book to look at if you have NEVER read/looked at anything else. But once you have that information, it is a great refiner and filter for all the ideas you might have.
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on May 5, 2012
This book is great! It is a wonderful counter point to all of the minimalism out there in decorating today. I appreciate the author's discussion of comfort. At first I was displeased at the lack of actual photographs in the book. Instead, the author chose to do watercolors to represent living areas. This was at first imperfect but became perfect as I read the book. It removes the perfection we are all used to seeing in home and garden magazines and books. I love the humanity of the book. It encourages you to buy things that you love and from different styles. As a mother of two toddlers, it is folly to buy brand new fussy and trendy furniture. Thank God I had my kids before I could afford to furnish my home straight from a showroom. This is a holistic approach that encourages creativity and individuality which result in a more organic and livable home. Because of this lovely book, I used Craigslist to find unique pieces and quit pining after $700.00 arm chairs. My home doesn't look a magazine to be sure but its comfortable. More importantly, it reflects me and this lovely book gave me great guidance. How can you not adore a book that has a chapter titled "A Bit of Quirk" which encourages you to find an animal decoration of some sort for your home?! I am still on the hunt for it. Other good advice regarding the height of lamps, arrangement of cushions on the couch, and cozifiers. Yes, not a real word but the big difference between a Ballard Designs catalog and a comfortable living space is a bit of quirk, a few actual people in the photos sitting on those chairs, and some cozifiers such as blankets and cushions.

The best unintended side effect of reading this book is my disgust at home and garden books and magazines. I find them too perfect! I now look at them and instead of wanting all of those glorious perfectly decorated and uncluttered interiors and think "Who would be comfortable living there?" I have two toddlers and those magazines used to make me feel so badly. Now, I can accept a few or more duplos on carpet and mussed up pillows on the chairs. Perfectly imperfect? There is absolutely nothing imperfect about it. Maybe I am easily transformed by a home decor book but its wonderful. Appreciating individuality, imperfection, and just plain downright comfort has been lost lately. Sometimes being able to accumulate nice things over time is more satisfying than buying your furniture all matched from a showroom. This book will help you assimilate all those disparate pieces into a "perfectly imperfect" whole or at least put you on the right path of doing so.
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This book is as refreshing and lilting as a Cole Porter song. The tone of it is a great mix of what the author loves best in design, and writes about: it's light, welcoming, chatty, quirky, comfortable, insouciant, cozy, glamorous, festive, personal and has a sense of history.

For design aficionados, it may read like a good novel. The winsome watercolors by Virginia Johnson add to the quirky charm of this book. They are frame-worthy and would be lovely on the walls of a reading corner, guest room or small bathroom. The watercolors of rooms are appealing the way a painting of a loved one is appealing in place of a photograph. You may enjoy guessing which rooms by designers the illustrations are capturing.

The star here is the text--the pointed point of view of the author Deborah Needleman who was founder of one of the most original design magazines DOMINO and is now Editor in Chief of WSJ MAGAZINE. If all design is opinion, she's got one; it has been informed by the pantheon of the first generation of great professional designers. They are quoted liberally in this book. We know them by their last names: Wharton, Fowler, Baldwin, Hicks, Hadley, Parish, Hampton and de Wolfe. English design is a strong bloodline in this ancestry which influences her philosophy. It combines with a bit of French elegance, and a touch of American democracy in decorating such as don't get hung up on the provenance of a piece as Hadley would say, and combine the handsome with the homely per Bilhuber. Needleman also has favorites in designers working today--some of whom may be on your list. It's an eclectic mix. It may prompt you to create your own list of designers whose works tantalize you.

If design is an expression of personality, this book is an expression of the author's. It synthesizes some of the best of the past, adapting and combining it with contemporary living today. It may inspire you, as it did me, to think about what constitutes your own ideal of a "perfectly imperfect home". What are the 10 adjectives that describe your ideal style? If one word is glamorous, what embodies glamour for you? A folding screen that 1940's stars are always changing behind in 1940's movies? It may provoke you to write down on folders your 10 or so favorite adjectives for style you love, and then start collecting photos of rooms, or elements of rooms, that include the ingredients which epitomize these adjectives for you. You may want to collect quotes by favorite designers on design elements you love, and consider combining them to produce your own book on MY PERFECTLY IMPERFECT HOME. (ELLE DECOR last week sent out an email on BLURB which, for as little as $10.95, will publish a personal bookstore-quality book that you design for your own coffee table or ottoman.)

Reading this book is an aesthetic delight and best experienced curled up in a favorite spot, with a throw, tasty beverage on requisite side table, and a fire or scented candles lit for an uninterrupted hour of sheer immersion in design. Here's a sampling of some favorite design insights from this book. You will have fun finding your own:

* Upholstered chairs are the backbone of a room. (Billy Baldwin)
* Every room should have a personality chair (Sister Parish)
* No more than three brown pieces of wood in a room (Sister Parish)
* When mixing patterns, connect through color and contrast through scale (Needleman)
* English furniture, all foursquare and sensible, was relieved by the delicacy of a French piece (John Fowler)
* I personally try to avoid all ceiling lights because I think that overhead light is a tragedy (Albert Hadley
* Make your home as comfortable and attractive as possible and then get on with living (Albert Hadley)

and one that may make you laugh:

* Every room needs a bit of ugly--"often an ugly color is introduced such as a faded black or drab, to give counterpoint to colors that are sweet and clean." (John Fowler).

Beautiful with a bit of ugly, stylish and sensible, your own vision of a perfectly imperfect home should be enhanced by this book. If you like the elements of style on the cover, you should enjoy the content inside.
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on November 20, 2015
There was little information in this book that was novel or new - the illustrations are great and reminded me of Mark Hampton Decorating.
If you have the older books cited in the back of the book - you don't need this one. Very disapointed.
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on January 11, 2015
I wanted to love this book because I love Dominio, but there are no photos (just drawings), and I haven't once picked it up to read. I missed my return window. I wouldn't buy this book.
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on August 12, 2015
Just didn't give me the tips I was looking for. Nothing I hadn't seen many times before.
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on December 3, 2015
Nice enough, lovely illustrations, good ideas, but basically thin
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on November 6, 2011
I love Deborah Needleman and pre-ordered this book. But it was actually pretty disappointing.

The text isn't too bad since there are a few useful hints here and there, but the illustrations dragged down the entire book. The illustrations in this book aren't even quite like illustrations you find in early Mark Hampton and Charlotte Moss books. These are very loose, impressionistic watercolors of imaginary rooms (though some were copied from real rooms) and vignettes that really don't convey anything and are probably only meant to eat up white space. I wish there were actual photos were you could see textiles, textures, etc. -- all the things that tie into the text and make a decorating book worthwhile.

Also, the illustrations -- page after page after page -- really became very cloying.

I don't think I would've bought this book had I known how incredibly mediocre it would be.
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